Gezi Parki demonstrations, which are being ruthlessly put down as we write, are a threshold in Turkish social history. It is the first movement in the republican history by the people who feel their demands and life styles are being ignored by their government.
AKP may suppress Gezi Parki and attendant support protests, because it is not afraid to sick a sadistic police force on the people, and has complete control of the judiciary to persecute anyone who can be identified on police cameras. It has silenced the liberal media by threatening the bosses to cut their government patronage. It controls a vast media empire, run either by businessmen affiliated with Mr. Erdogan’s family (Yeni Safak, SABAH), religious organizations (ZAMAN by the muslim cleric Gulen’s movement) or businesses that owe their licenses to the grace to AKP (SOCAR, Star Gazete). This media has been instrumental in provoking fear among the conservatives and the middle class by atrocious lies. Consider some of the accusations:
- Women in Islamic garb have been attacked through the country by protestors (any complaints to the police, any eyewitness accounts?)
- Mosques have been used for drunken orgies.
- International financial investors who want higher interest rates, USA and EU have orchestrated these demonstrations to put Erdogan in his place.
- Protestors are extreme left-wingers and drug crazed lunatic fringe members whose only aim is vandalize property and to destroy authority.
Erdogan has built a wall of lies around him behind which he is ordering the execution of modern life in Turkey. The police, the judiciary and the conservative media are his executioners. He has become an elected dictator and the biggest obstacle to the democratization of the Turkish society.
Turkey and her peace-loving, democracy-hungry people should not be left alone at this critical juncture. EU must counsel Erdogan to avoid violence and to listen to the demands of the protestors. EU organs should cease dealing with members of the conservative media and the dozens of so-called business organizations which are actually fronts for AKP and the Gulen sect. EU should use its formidable soft power to reach out to the few genuine media outlets, brave NGOs and the rapidly proliferating news websites to offer protection, financial and moral support. Dismissing CHP as a “relic of the Kemalist age”, one of the major achievements of the pro-AKP propaganda, will not help democracy in Turkey.
Make no mistake, Gezi Parki is the birth of the liberal society in Turkey. USA and EU face a very stark choice. If they enable Erdogan and his henchmen, Gezi Parki will be a still birth. Those who aspire to the higher democratic and social standards of the Western world will disconnect from the political system, migrate or drift away in a sullen existence in the shallow spaces of social media. Engage, defend and nourish the real NGOs, the brave new press and representatives of the modern people.